Opioid Crisis, Mental Health Supports, #16Days, and COVID-19 Updates

In addition to the global COVID-19 pandemic, our communities continue to see the effects of another deadly public health crisis. Neighbourhoods across Toronto continue to be impacted by addictions and rising fatal and non-fatal opioid overdoses. This Sunday, two middle-aged men lost their lives to a drug overdose. Both experiencing homelessness and living in Bellevue Park. Experts say we are at a pace for a yearly 516 residents experiencing a fatal overdose, an 81% increase compared to 2019.

From November 1, 2020 to October 31, 2021, Toronto Paramedic Services responded to 5,776 suspected opioid overdose calls, including 351 calls involving death. This is a 61% increase in the number of suspected opioid overdose calls compared to the previous 12-months and a 53% increase in the number involving a death. Yesterday morning, police warned of a suspicious drug circulating through communities which resulted in the death of two additional men in Deer Park. This is a tragedy. If you have information please submit it to the Toronto Police non-emergency at 416-808-2222 or anonymously through CrimeStoppers at 416-222-8477 (TIPS).

The pandemic has impacted everyone’s mental health, and it is critical that we continue to support residents living with mental health challenges and addiction. In 2019, I called on our Federal government to increase annual funding to $300 million in support for mental health and addictions services. These calls have gone unanswered.

While it seems clear that our Federal government is unwilling to commit these necessary supports, I was proud to have my motion adopted at our November 9 meeting of City Council asking staff to investigate options in creating and coordinating a mental health strategy across Toronto including continuing to lobby for an inter-governmental response. 

Early next week, the Board of Health will be calling once again on actions to address the ongoing opioid/Fentanyl crisis including demanding our Provincial Minister of Mental Health commit to funding the remaining request for approximately $4 million in annualized funding to increase the capacity of several organizations that are part of the Toronto Opioid Overdose Action Network. Our provincial and federal governments need to step up and take ownership of these challenges that are being downloaded to City staff, our shelter system, and our neighbours. 

Team Toronto continues to tackle vaccination efforts for COVID-19. With the emerging variant of Omicron with four known cases in Canada, it’s critical we continue to do our best to protect our communities. I encourage any and all who are eligible to get vaccinated to protect ourselves and our communities. 

Children between the ages of 5 and 12 years old are now eligible to receive their vaccination. I would encourage you to book your appointments today! You can do so by booking through the COVID-19 vaccination portal or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY for people who are deaf, hearing-impaired, or speech-impaired: 1-866-797-0007). Learn more here.

As we slowly begin to gather indoors again, please consider how you can make your trips and interactions safer. If you can please wear a mask, and continue to keep your distance and respect space. 

Thursday, November 25 marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and also the start of 16 Days of Activism to end gender-based violence. #16Days concludes on World Human Rights Day on December 10th, where we reaffirm our commitment to working towards a more just world for everyone. Taking this time to learn and commit to action is crucial. In Canada and around the world, women, girls, 2SLGBTQQIA+ and gender diverse individuals face disproportionate rates of violence and discrimination, which has only worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic. During this #16DaysOfActivism, I encourage you to think of what you can do to further the fight for equality and against gender-based violence. You can use this resource from the Department for Women and Gender Equality Canada to start your journey. On social media, you can support feminist and women’s rights organizations who do this work every day. Read the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls final report and commit to action. While #16Days might start the conversation about what we can do to eliminate gender-based violence, it shouldn’t be the end of it. Let’s continue to push and demand for action from all levels of government until everyone is safe. 

Lastly, tomorrow is World AIDS Day and the start of Indigenous AIDS Awareness Week. I’ve included some upcoming events in which you might be interested. Read on for details.

Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.


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What’s In Today’s EBlast?

Toronto Kids Vaccine Day at Scotiabank Arena

Toronto Kids Vaccine Day at Scotiabank Arena promotional imageToronto Kids Vaccine Day at Scotiabank Arena promotional image

On Sunday, December 12, 2021, 2000 of Toronto’s youngest community health superheroes from ages 5-11 will have a chance to receive their COVID-19 vaccine at Scotiabank Arena as part of Toronto Kids Vaccine Day.

Scotiabank Arena’s Toronto Kids Vaccine Day will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on December 12, and will be complete with giveaways, music, and entertainment throughout the day. The event is staffed by Toronto Public Health and Hospital for Sick Children’s doctors and nurses, who are experts in speaking with children and caregivers about vaccines, as well as providing child-friendly experiences for the vaccination. 

Children must be turning five years old by the end of 2021 (born in 2016) to be eligible to be booked for an appointment. Parents and caregivers of children without an Ontario Health Card can call the Toronto Public Health hotline at 416-338-7600 (TTY: 416-392-0658) to obtain an ID to book an appointment. Learn more here.

Book your appointment now! 

Cabbagetown BIA Presents: Holiday in the Patch 2021

Holiday in the Patch promotional posterHoliday in the Patch promotional poster

The Cabbagetown BIA proudly presents this year’s holiday event: Holiday in the Patch 2021! The event will feature a visit from Santa Claus himself, as well as crafts and tree decorating for the kids, warm drinks and baked goods. There will also be live music including a performance by the local St. James Town Children's Choir. Come enjoy the start of the holiday season with your friends from the Cabbagetown BIA!

When: December 4, 2021
Time: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Where: North East corner of Parliament St. and Carlton St.

Old Town Toronto Cavalcade of Lights

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! On Saturday, December 4, 2021 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m, celebrate the holiday season with lights and music in Berczy Park in Old Town Toronto. The Old Town Toronto Cavalcade of Lights welcomes everyone to Berczy Park, known for its beloved fountain featuring dogs and a cat, with a whimsical holiday light display perfect for an Insta-worthy memorable experience! 

When: Saturday, December 4, 2021
Time: 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Where: Berczy Park, 35 Wellington Street East

Looking forward to celebrating the season with you!

You May Be Interested in: In Times of Change

In Times of Change podcast informational posterIn Times of Change podcast informational poster

Created by our friends at Building Roots & CJRU, In Times of Change is a new three-part series that premiered in November that summarizes how the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected grassroots food security initiatives and a spread of collaborative, local efforts in Toronto. Building Roots operates the Moss Park Market within the Moss Park community of Toronto's Downtown East and supports several other program locations across the city. This close-to-home story is brought to life by a series of interviews with the team members of Building Roots, Community Members, Supporters, Residents and Community Partners. Listen to all three episodes here. 

Toronto Miracle Food Drive 

Food drive informational graphicFood drive informational graphic

One of Toronto's largest food drives is coming to our community to help feed our neighbours in need. On December 4, 2021 at 10 a.m., residents of Toronto are invited to leave a non-perishable food item on their doorstep. Volunteers will collect these donations and redistribute them to people in need in the community. Toronto Miracle’s goal is to bring together all 140 Toronto neighbourhoods to collect 250,000 lb of non-perishable food in one day.

Toronto Miracle was started in 2020 by community members who were concerned about the impact COVID-19 was having on our city. Inspired by similar events  held in Chatham-Kent, Windsor-Essex, Northwest Territories, and Montreal, they launched the Toronto Miracle in an effort to bring together the community to fight food insecurity. This is a community-led project run completely on volunteer power.

‍Please register your intent to donate no later than December 2nd so that volunteers can plan their pick-up routes. These unique times we have been going through in this pandemic are the most difficult that many have ever faced. If you are able, let’s come together to protect our community’s most vulnerable people. Learn more about this initiative on their website.

Gooderham and Worts Neighbourhood Association Holiday Celebration

Gooderham and Worts Neighbourhood Association Holiday Celebration promotional posterGooderham and Worts Neighbourhood Association Holiday Celebration promotional poster

On Monday, December 13th 2021, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., join the Gooderham and Worts Neighbourhood Association (GWNA) Community Holiday Zoom Celebration. This celebration is open to all. Enjoy your personal choice of drink and snacks while joining the GWNA for some trivia, fun, and riddles!

When: Monday, December 13, 2021 
Time: 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Where: Zoom

World AIDS Day Events

World AIDS Day, annually on December 1st, which also launches the start of Indigenous AIDS Awareness Week in Canada, is a time for reflection: on what we have achieved with regard to the national and global response to HIV, and what we still must achieve. There are a couple World AIDS day events in our community, for those who would like to attend. 

Casey House Foundation presents: A World AIDS Day celebration
Where: Online
When: Wednesday 1 December, 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Contact: Lisa McDonald (416-962-4040)

Maggie's Toronto: World AIDS Day Ball: A Tribute To The Greatest
Where: Artscape Daniels Launchpad, East Tower, 130 Queens Quay E, 4th Floor
When: Saturday, December 4, 2021
Time: 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Contact: Tamar Carter [email protected] 
Learn more on their website

Inspirations Studio Holiday Market 

Inspirations Studio Holiday Market promotional posterInspirations Studio Holiday Market promotional poster

On December 11-12, join our friends at Inspiration Studios as they celebrate the holiday season with their 27th annual holiday market and open house! Inspiration Studios is a unique low-barrier ceramics program for women. The Studio provides studio access, storefront selling opportunities, and arts education for women who have experienced marginalization. 

When: December 11 and 12, 2021
Time: 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Where: Inspiration Studios, 389 Church Street

Join them to reduce stigma and support change one pot at a time! Learn more about Inspirations Studio on their website.

Barbara Hall Park Programming Feedback

Barbara Hall Park survey promotional posterBarbara Hall Park survey promotional poster

From concerts to yoga, Barbara Hall Park was full of community activities this past summer. It was great to see so many experiences offered in The Village. The organizers are already making plans for next year, and they want your feedback!

Tell them about your experiences in Barbara Hall Park this summer: What did you like about the programming? What do you want to see more of in 2022? Please fill out this short survey to help make an impact in your community.

Hepatitis C Virus Educational Campaign

Gilead Canada launched Take a 15-Minute Break. For You campaign posterGilead Canada launched Take a 15-Minute Break. For You campaign poster

Today, November 30th, Gilead Canada launched Take a 15-Minute Break. For You., a nationwide campaign dedicated to increasing awareness of and screening for the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) within underserved communities. COVID-19 has caused significant shifts in HCV service and slowed progress towards elimination, making this a critical time to re-engage HCV treaters and priority populations. 

The campaign centres on one key action: Taking a break. Gilead Canada and community partners will activate coffee breaks across Canada and ask those at risk of contracting HCV to take 15 minutes for themselves, and to learn more about how HCV is transmitted, tested for and diagnosed. HepCURE has its first Hepatitis C testing and education event today in front of the Bond Hotel at 65 Dundas Street East., from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Toronto Centre Projects

Toronto Centre Projects is designed to engage community members and crowdsource neighbourhood projects supported by the Councillor's office and your neighbours. Over the next year, my office will be launching consultations for several parks and dog off-leash area revitalizations, public realm improvements, and more.

Have ideas to make our communities more liveable, vibrant, and safe? Submit them at www.TorontoCentreProjects.ca.

Current Projects

Market Lane Park Redesign

The City is planning improvements to Market Lane Park and will be collecting feedback from the local community, stakeholders, and Indigenous communities to ensure the new park design meets the needs of the community.

This project involves redesigning the entirety of Market Lane Park, adjacent to the St. Lawrence Hall and future North St. Lawrence Market building that is currently under construction. This work is intended to follow the North St. Lawrence Market work.

Learn More & Get Updates 

Active Public Consultations

Animals Bylaw Review

Municipal Licensing & Standards (MLS) is reviewing the Animals Bylaw to improve the coexistence of humans and wildlife, decrease nuisance behaviour and enhance animal welfare.

A survey is available on the Animal Bylaw Review webpage for residents to share their opinions and additional feedback can also be emailed to [email protected] The deadline for feedback is December 17 at 11:59 pm. The feedback will inform a staff report to the Government and Licensing Committee expected in spring 2022.

 Take the Survey


Property Standards Bylaw Review

Municipal Licensing & Standards (MLS) is reviewing the Property Standards Bylaw to ensure that all properties are safe and well maintained and that rules and standards for property owners and occupants are clear and consistent.

The first phase of the review will explore the following topics:

  • Issues with external light in residences
  • Surveillance cameras on neighbouring properties
  • Timing of snow and ice clearing and enforcement of snow removal on private property
  • Implementing safety measures for vacant-derelict properties
  • Security and safety measures for dormant development sites and
  • Right of access to adjoining land to make repairs or alterations to your property.

Toronto residents are invited to participate and provide input on these topics through a survey available on the Property Standards webpage. The deadline to complete the survey is December 20, 2021.

 Take the Survey 

Featured Proposals

Toronto Centre Projects poster about the Shuter Street improvements, a banner with "success" written across itToronto Centre Projects poster about the Shuter Street improvements, a banner with "success" written across it

On November 24th, the Toronto and East York Community Council adopted my motions to reduce the speed limit on Shuter Street to 30km/h, report back on installing Traffic Signals at Shuter/Sackville and Shuter/Sumach, and improving the cross-time on the signals at Parliament/Shuter. 

In October, community member Zaheed submitted the proposal on Toronto Centre Projects, gathered over 100 signatures online and in-person, and I then submitted the proposal in the form of a motion to Community Council.

Next Steps: Transportation Engineering Staff will now begin the process of investigating the feasibility of installing Traffic Signals at Shuter/Sackville and Shuter/Sumach and will report back to the Community Council in the first half of 2022.

They will also begin planning and implementing the cross-time improvement and the speed limit reduction which is quite complex. A great deal of work is involved including reprogramming each traffic signal to update the timing, reconfiguring the coordination of the signals with each other to keep vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists moving safely, coordinating with the Toronto Transit Commission and emergency services, as well as installing the new speed limit signage. These changes are anticipated to be implemented in 2023.

Who else wants to be a changemaker? Submit your ideas to make our communities more liveable, vibrant, and safe at www.TorontoCentreProjects.ca.

COVID-19: Vaccine Information 

For updates about Toronto’s vaccination rollout and booking system, please visit my website.

Book an appointment at a City-operated vaccination clinic by phone through the provincial call centre, 1-888-999-6488.

Book an appointment at a City-operated vaccination clinic online at www.toronto.ca/covid-19. For online bookings, you will need: 

  • Information found on your Government of Ontario photo health card;
  • Birthdate;
  • Postal code; and
  • Email address or phone number.

The provincial system will verify your eligibility to book an appointment for vaccination based on this information and will then guide you to the scheduling system. 

Please do not call 311 or Toronto Public Health to book an appointment. The City 311 contact centre and Toronto Public Health staff do not have access to the booking system.

Vaccinated Against COVID-19? What Does It Mean For Me?

By getting vaccinated, you benefit from the protection you get against COVID-19 and the easing of restrictive measures in your community. You still need to follow local public health advice in public settings (e.g. workplaces, public transit). Their advice considers community risk levels. 

A majority of people in Canada have now had their first shot and many will soon be fully vaccinated. Below is a handy chart created by Public Health Canada to inform your actions depending on your vaccination status. This advice is based on the current state and will be updated as vaccination rates continue to increase and cases decrease.

COVID-19: Ongoing Tips to Reduce Virus Spread

As we begin to again restrengthen our public health measures, we will all continue to live in this new normal. Wearing a mask or a face covering is mandatory in all public indoor spaces and on the TTC. Our commitment must be to continue minimizing the impact of COVID-19, especially on our most vulnerable residents, while reducing negative social, economic, and broader health impacts on our community. In the coming months what this means for our residents is:

  • Continuing to work remotely, wherever possible;
  • Maintaining physical distance from people outside our household or social circle/bubble;
  • Avoiding crowds and congregations in closed indoor settings;
  • Wearing a cloth mask or face covering in any public indoor setting, including stores, transit, offices; and where
  • physical distancing is difficult to maintain.
  • Staying home whenever we are sick for any reason.

Thank you for doing your part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help protect our communities. For more tips on social distancing, please visit the City’s website or download this info sheet.

COVID-19 Information and Resources

Now is the time to stay informed through credible sources, and to follow the advice of our public health professionals. Together we can limit the spread of COVID-19.

Phone lines for telehealth, TPH and 311 continue to experience very high volumes. Please help keep the phones lines open for people who are sick by visiting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 website for up-to-date information and resources: toronto.ca/covid-19

Telehealth Ontario
Call if you develop symptoms!
Telephone: 1-866-797-0000

Toronto Public Health Hotline
8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Call if you have questions about COVID-19.
Telephone: 416-338-7600
TTY: 416-392-0658
Email: [email protected]

311 Toronto
311 provides residents, businesses and visitors with easy access to non-emergency City services, programs and information 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 311 can offer assistance in more than 180 languages.
Telephone: 311
Outside City limits: 416-392-2489

Support for People Living with Homelessness

If you see someone living with homelessness and in need of support you can call Streets to Homes at 416-338-4766. For mental health support, the Gerstein Crisis Centre is a valuable 24-hours a day, seven days a week service in our community and they have crisis workers on standby at 416-929-5200. More resources, including additional how to report information, are available on my website at kristynwongtam.ca.

Toronto Police

If you or someone else is confronted with life-threatening danger, please call 911 immediately. Alternatively, the Toronto Police request that online reports be submitted at torontopolice.on.ca/core or to torontopolice.on.ca/community-complaints. You can also call their non-emergency line at 416-808-2222. 

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